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26 The Owl

hexagram-26-owl‘THE CALL FROM tree to tree makes total sense of the darkness. The wood just woke me
when it drained itself of light – you too!’

They venture from their lairs, a furtive demolition crew. Daylight, not
this dark, is the realm of secrets. The woodland floor is teeming – careless
around the base of the food ladder. Above, on a branch: a booby trap of
eyes and claws, patiently still on its fuse of ruthless hunger, crouched
within its eyebrows. Its left ear, pointed down, picks up pattering raindrops.

1st – The Owl of Unquenchable Desire
Mother turns Daughter into an owl, enticing her up a tree and making
her flap her arms with a loud hoo hoo till she takes to the air, leaving her
skin behind – disguise to snare soft Son-in-law on talons of flesh. Her eyes
dilate to see his innocent scampering soul as he drinks elemental earth.

2nd – The Owl Journal
Pellets are broken like bread, their random slices studied like a miniature
Torah, unfolding intricate exhibits of the tundra – a clavicle or two, a
mandible with molars and incisors, skulls of voles and partial skulls of
lemmings. Beware: this is the ancestral home of the clothes moth.

3rd – The Owl Count Competition
A hire car trundles on what’s little more than a goat track. Inside, tired
young minds are diverted by the spotting challenge. So far neither Sunita
nor Dexter has noticed the upslope distribution of broken-down farms,
and therefore feathered finials, in this godforsaken outpost of Athene.

4th – The Owl of Union
On the threshold of the house of the usher, the falconer flies both rings,
in a white feathery rush and contraction, onto the best man’s gauntlet.
Hooked into his sleeve, like a conjurer’s folded dove, hangs the barn owl’s
consideration, seigneurial morsel, a juicy broken mouse.

5th – The Owl and the Parrot
All those second-hand signifiers! – the pirate of empirical truth despises
heretical parrots. An owl sits silent on his shoulder’s rat-tailed epaulette,
a beacon of peace in ventriloquist Venice. Harlequin is ubiquitous here,
echoing false blandishments and questioning the owl’s earnest diplomas.

6th – The Eagle Owl
Oil platforms report no landings; fly-bys are unheard of too. Our forty
or so pairs are no doubt kingly escapees that have teamed up on the run,
sharing dark nights in cold caves, or the offspring thereof, putting time as
well as space behind them, pluckily shuffling off their manacles.

All six – The Owl of the Baskervilles
Forget the homely hobbit’s croft: sparing and nuanced, the short-eared
margrave billows up from a silver-birch camp on the high moor, at the
triangle where roads confer, eyes peering in complicity from cars, pale
orange raiment, drifting in its noble office, effortlessly deflecting blame.

Introduction to Six-Way Mirror | The Index of Hexagrams and Cantos



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